CLINE: Let them pour in Snellville

With the way Snellville politics go sometimes, you can't blame anyone in the city for wanting a drink no matter what day. But after a lengthy period of debate followed by a false start, it looks like the issue of Sunday alcohol sales will soon be resolved.

A specially called City Council meeting Thursday should make a referendum on the issue a reality. The residents of Snellville will get their say, a chance to vote on an issue that the council members themselves approved in a December vote. A magistrate judge reversed that decision less than a month later, saying there was a need for Snellville residents to vote on the issue.

They should soon be getting their chance, and it should be an easy decision. Sunday alcohol sales have long been a lightning rod in the South, with Georgia one of only three states in the nation that have moratoriums on Sunday beer and liquor sales at grocery and liquor stores. Cities make their own decisions on alcohol sales at restaurants, and it's time for Snellville to approve a measure that will help businesses in its community.

It's not often that the Snellville council votes unanimously in favor of anything, but in this case it's evidence of how important they think the issue is for the city. Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer wants his city to be successful, and in order for that to happen, the city needs thriving businesses.

Earlier this year during a short run of Sunday sales -- when restaurants that make more than 50 percent of their revenue from food were allowed to sell alcoholic beverages between 12:30 p.m. and midnight -- local restaurants saw a marked increase in sales.

The mayor said that local restaurants reported increased sales by as much as 20 percent during the three weeks local establishments were allowed to pour on Sundays. Those are the type of eye-opening numbers that underscore what a financial boon the decision would be for local business, Oberholtzer said.

"People realize that with the economy we've got to be doing things to allow businesses to be successful," Oberholtzer said after a specially called meeting Monday night that served as the first step of having a referendum on the issue. "It gives us revenue to keep the quality of life we have here in Snellville."

The law banning Sunday pours in Snellville is antiquated, and a vote to change it is needed. City attorney Tony Powell said the proposed referendum will read: "Should the governing authority of the city of Snellville be authorized to permit and regulate Sunday sales of distilled spirits and alcoholic beverages?"

It's a simple yes or no question. It deserves a simple yes.

E-mail Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.